Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ikea Wall Cabinet Install

I spent the last couple of evenings installing some IKEA brand wall cabinets for the wife in our office space at home.  After I was done, I realized just how laughable it is for IKEA to think that the "average" person could successfully assemble and install these.  Most people I know hate to sit and read instructions, especially the vague one's packed in your typical IKEA box.  Even fewer actually own the set of physical tools required or have gained sufficient experience to do this right (you know, so that the wall cabinets don't come crashing down onto your head).  To get the real skinny on how to install the Akurum line, you need to go to their online instructions, because the one's in the flat pack are the bare minimum.  Here is the link: (IKEA Akurum Kitchen Install Guide)

As for me, I think I did a pretty good job.  I was very excited to find that I had, over the years, finally gathered enough tools to do the job right.  This is what I would recommend you have if you decide to install IKEA wall cabinets yourself, I certainly used all of these tools:

  • PATIENCE (the #1 mental tool required to do just about anything the right way)
  • Instruction booklets (both the one's in the packages and the one's online)
  • Hammer
  • Screwdrivers, phillips and flat head drive
  • Impact Driver (makes installing the rail system into studs 10 times faster)
  • Drill (pilot holes for the rail system)
  • 10mm wrench or ratchet with 10mm socket
  • Wood shims
  • 4-ft level (shorter is okay)
  • Step ladder
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Mounting hardware for the rail (more on this later)
  • Drill bits for making pilot holes
  • Multi-tool (oscillating) w/ flush cut blade (optional, makes quick work of shims)
  • Adhesive (silicone is flexible, but wood glue will work)
  • Miter saw (optional, this is if you want to make a jig for installing the door handles perfectly on each door)
  • Utility knife
  • Try square, (or any type of square, really, to check cabinet construction
  • Hacksaw (for cutting the IKEA rail to length)
I think that covers it all.  You can see right away that the average person might not own all of these tools, and that alone would make quite the challenge out of assembling and installing wall cabinets like this.

The rail runs along the top of the cabinets
Now, about that rail mounting hardware.  The Akurum line uses a "rationell" rail suspension system to make cabinet hanging "easy".  One thing that you will NOT find ANYWHERE on IKEA's install guides is any guidance regarding how to mount the rail into your wall.  I understand they might want to avoid the liability associated with recommending a fastener, or perhaps they will say something like "well...we don't know the make up or condition of your structure, so we can't make a recommendation".  But come on now, at least recommend a resource for figuring this out!

As for our walls, we have drywall (gypsum) over 2x4 wood studs, spaced at 16" on-center.  Considering that the mounting rail is only about 1/8" thick, I went with a 2-1/2" long #10 sheet metal screw.  That's right, I said it.  Sheet metal.  Sheet metal screws are designed with full threads in order to draw sheet metal fully together.  They are also used for attaching sheet metal to wood.  The nice part here is that they generally are "round head", meaning that they are round on top and flat on bottom.  Most wood screws readily available at the big box stores have tapered heads (tapered on bottom).  The IKEA rationell rail is metal, and it does not accomodate a tapered head screw properly.  Using that head type will result in uneven loading on the screw and rail combo.  The round head, on the other hand, will tighten up nicely against the rail and draw it to the stud securely.

Whatever your wall type and situation might be, make sure to do some research and ask a lot of questions from the experts.  Never trust the first opinion you get, either.  Ultimately, the decision will be yours, and your or your family member's safety (watch out for falling wall cabinets!!!) is in your hands alone.  Best of luck!

1 comment:

  1. This is really an interesting and informative conversation. Nice to find and read.

    Office Wall Cabinets